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UK to open National Battery Manufacturing Facility

UK Houses of Parliament

The BEIS is to provide GBP80 million for the development of a battery R&D and production facility in Coventry and Warwickshire

The UK government is to fund a new National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility (NBMDF) as part of its flagship innovation programme, the Faraday Battery Challenge.

Backed with GBP80 million, the site in Coventry and Warwickshire will be the country’s first ever national battery development factory and “will help establish the UK as one of the world leader’s in battery technology and innovation,” the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said.

Bids for the site were made by a consortium of Coventry and Warwickshire LEP and the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), in a competition overseen by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

Funding comes as part of the GBP246 million Faraday Challenge, one of the cornerstone projects in the government’s recently unveiled Clean Growth Strategy, which itself calls for around GBP841 million of funding for innovation low carbon transport technology and fuels.

The NBMDF facility will be tasked with turning the most promising early and mid-stage battery R&D into scalable, commercially viable business propositions, and contain equipment for battery production and assembly. It will also become a key location for education in the field, enabling training and skills development.

Encouragingly for EV pioneers, the centre will be independent and accessible to UK-based companies looking to develop battery technologies.

Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark said: “The new facility, based in Coventry and Warwickshire, will propel the UK forward in this thriving area, bringing together the best minds from academia and industry together to deliver innovation and R&D that will further enhance the West Midlands international reputation as a cluster of automotive excellence.”

WMG chairman Lord Bhattacharyya said: “This will be an openly accessible centre of real impact, working coherently with the application-inspired fundamental research emerging from Faraday Institution and ensuring the transfer of technology takes place at scale to support the industrialisation of batteries in the UK.”

During his speech, Greg Clark also announced the winners of GBP40 million of additional Faraday Battery Challenge investment, allocated through Innovate UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund competition. 27 new projects will be funded, and include topics such as the development of battery materials and cell manufacturing, design and production of modules and packs including advances in thermal management and battery management systems, and the recycling of battery packs.

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While the UK has a respected reputation for engineering, its automotive manufacturing sector is smaller than nearby rivals like Germany and France. It’s therefore encouraging to see the government prioritise technology development, especially commercial battery technologies, which could provide valuable manufacturing and export opportunities in the automotive and energy storage sectors.

It’s also part of a wider drive to source more automotive parts locally, with the government now aiming for UK-made cars to use 50% British components by 2022.

The proof will of course be in the commercial technologies that come out of the facility, but given the pedigree of groups like WMG, and the work of the APC, the forecast looks promising.

 

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